February, 2008

February 3, 2008

Today's Slightly Less Brutal Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The Japanese navy during the 1930's was slightly less brutal than the army, with less need for close-up fighting, but it too glorified death, as can be seen in the words of the mournful Japanese navy anthem, the "Umi Yukaba":

Across the sea, corpses floating in the water.
Across the mountains, corpses heaped upon the grass.
We shall die by the side of our lord.
We shall never look back.

Culled from: Flyboys

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Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Here's a can't-miss piece of black humor: Ken Russell's "A Kitten For Hitler". Here's the story behind the short film:

http://www.comedybox.tv/colonarticle-1-my_kitten_for_hitler_is_all_in_the_best_bad_taste

And here's the little masterpiece itself:

http://www.comedybox.tv/index.aspx?filter=picks&clip=10864

Thanks to Steve O' for the link.

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Morbid Art Du Jour!

Here's a great collection of freak show posters from the British Library website.

http://www.bl.uk/learning/artimages/bodies/freak/gallery/freakgallery.html

Thanks to Lady Morgana for the link.


February 6, 2008

Today's Scarred For Life Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A woman has been left scarred for life after a flaming sausage dish exploded in her face, a court heard yesterday (April 12, 2007). The unnamed victim was horrifically seared when a waiter topped up her Portuguese meal with rum. Boosted by the extra alcohol, the flambe chorizo dish erupted in a "ball of fire" which spread over her table. The woman said it was like being "hit by a flame-thrower". She spent two weeks in hospital, had two skin grafts and will have to wear pressure garments on both hands for 23 hours a day for two years. She has also had flashbacks, panic attacks, anxiety and depression. Yesterday, restaurant boss Rui Daniel Velosa was fined £4,000 by West London magistrates and ordered to pay £2,000 costs. He admitted failing to make a proper risk assessment, failing to serve the dish safely and failing to report the accident at the Sporting Clube de Londres in Westbourne Green. Kensington and Chelsea Council said: "This was a truly awful accident which should never have happened."

Culled from: The Daily Mail
Generously submitted by: CapalDubh

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Click on the above link to see the wicked sausage!

I think I've asked this before, but does anyone else automatically hear the Chicken Lady when they read the term "scarred for life"?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ_IXZ0Bksg

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Morbid Link Du Jour!

Here's an interesting article on the Papua, New Guinea art of decorating skulls. A worthy endeavor, indeed!

http://curiousexpeditions.org/?p=167

Thanks to Bruce T. for the link.

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False Advertisement Du Jour!

This website has a video called "By Far The Worst Job Ever". What are they *thinking*? This must surely be one of the Greatest Jobs Ever: Crime Scene Clean-Up! Sigh... Aren't normal people annoying?

http://www.shoutfile.com/v/HRPFhBYz/By_Far_The_Worst_Job_Ever

Thanks to Carolyn for the link.


February 7, 2008

Today's Shameful Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The Devil's Teat, a mark anywhere on a woman's body from which it was believed that demons would suckle, was considered one of the surefire signs of a witch. During witch hunts, suspects would be searched by men called "witch prickers" who looked for the Devil's Teat. When Margaret Jones, a Boston midwife and healer, was accused in 1648 of having "an apparent teat in her secret parts," her friend explained that it was a tear left over from a difficult childbirth. No doubt this cause, or a swollen clitoris, explained these cases. But Mathew Hopkins, the fanatical witch hunter of Essex, England, would not take childbearing or hemorrhoids as an excuse, pointing out that the marks "are in the contrary part."

It was believed that a pricker would know a witch because a true devil's mark would have no feeling or blood when stabbed. A contemporary observed that many innocent women were so overcome with shame and fear at having their bodies probed by a strange man that they became numb and could feel nothing, thus appearing guilty.

Culled from: Witchcraze

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Now we know where the term "prick" comes from...

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Morbid Link Du Jour!

Bitey Castle is an excellent animation website. I'm especially enamored of the 30 Shorts in 30 Days feature. Not all of the animations are morbid, but they are all entertaining!

Bitey Castle

Thanks to NYC Rocker for the link.

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Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

If you're going to adopt, why not get something out of it in return? Like, say, an organ?

Medical Adoptions

Thanks to Dark Paradox for the link.


February 10, 2008

Today's Interesting Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Danish nobleman and astronomer Tycho Brahe was one interesting fellow. He kept a dwarf as a court jester who sat under the table during dinner. He even had a tame pet moose. Tycho also lost the tip of his nose in a duel with another Danish nobleman and had to wear a "dummy" nose made from silver and gold, but that’s another story. It was said that Tycho had to hold his pee during one particularly long banquet in 1601 (getting up in the middle of a dinner was considered really rude) that his bladder, strained to its limits, developed an infection which later killed him! Later analyses suggested that Tycho died because of mercury poisoning but that’s not nearly as interesting as the original story.

Culled from: Neatorama
Generously submitted by: Bex

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Wretched Recommendations!

Constance has a book recommendation for us. Sounds like a good one!

"I just finished Assassination Vacation, which is a morbid, goofy, and fascinating travelogue of places associated with the four US Presidential assassinations. Sarah Vowell is fascinated (or possibly
obsessed) with American history, especially that time period from the Civil War to the beginning World War I, which just happens to be one of the more morbid periods of American History to begin with.

"(Fans of NPR's This American Life would be familar with Vowell; she's a regular.)

"Assassination Vacation is funny and dark -- when she's not risking devastating seasickness to visit Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas where the Lincoln assassination conspirators were imprisoned, she's teaching her three year old nephew about decapitation, 'Halloween parks' (aka cemeteries) and spleens. She usually ends up dragging friends and family around on her obsessional pilgrimages (she does not
drive) and it's like being an observer when I drag MY friends out to some weird site that they don't care about.

"She visits the Mutter Museum (of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia), the New Jersey beach where Garfield died, Lincoln's coffin replica (which she says looks like it should be at the Grand Ole Opry) among other places, and never fails to fascinate."

Sounds like my kind of girl!

Assassination Vacation
by Sarah Vowell

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Morbid Lyric Du Jour!

Angie has a morbid lyric to share:

"The song 'Vicariously' from the CD '10,000 Days' by Tool reminds me of MFDJ:

Eye on the TV
'cause tragedy thrills me
Whatever flavor
It happens to be

Like:
"Killed by the husband"
"Drowned by the ocean"
"Shot by his own son"
"She used the poison in his tea
[and / he] kissed [him / her] goodbye"
That's my kind of story
It's no fun til someone dies

Don't look me at like
I am a monster
Frown out your one face
But with the other
Stare like a junkie
Into the TV
Stare like a zombie
While the mother, holds her child
Watches him die
Hands to the sky cryin,
"Why, oh why?"

Cause I need to watch things die
From a distance
Vicariously, I
Live while the whole world dies
You all need it too - don't lie.

Why can't we just admit it?
Why can't we just admit it?
We won't give pause until the blood is flowin'
Neither the brave nor bold
Will write us the story so
We won't give pause until the blood is flowin'

I need to watch things die
From a good safe distance
Vicariously, I
Live while the whole world dies
You all feel the same so
Why can't we just admit it?

Blood like rain fallin' down
[Drown on grave and ground / ?? ]

Part vampire
Part warrior
Carnivore and voyeur
Stare at the
[transmittal / transmitter]
Sing to the death rattle

La, la, la, la, la, la, la-lie (x4)

Credulous at best
Your desire to believe in
Angels in the hearts of men.
But pull your head on out
[Your head please / ??] and give a listen Shouldn't have to say it all again

The universe is hostile
So impersonal
Devour to survive
So it is, so it's always been ...

We all feed on tragedy
It's like blood to a vampire

Vicariously, I
Live while the whole world dies
Much better you than I.


February 11, 2008

Today's Guilty Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The Spanish Inquisition was no respecter of persons. One of its victims was none other than Carlos, the eldest son of Philip II, and heir to the throne. Reputedly, Don Carlos was horrified at the practices of the Holy Office, and, in private conversation, criticized its actions. Inevitably, some envious person reported this, and Carlos was arrested. His father made no effort to save him, and he was found guilty of heresy and condemned to death; but, because of his rank, he was permitted to choose the manner of his execution. He elected to have a vein opened, and so bled to death, at the age of 23, in 1568.

Culled from: The History Of Torture

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Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Here's the perfect hand soap to leave out for your guests!

http://foliage.myshopify.com/products/handsoap

Thanks to Nina for the link.

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Wretched Recommendations!

Sarah has a book recommendation that will fit nicely in the Pestilence aisle of The Library Eclectica (http://astore.amazon.com/theasylumeclecti?%5Fencoding=UTF8&node=22):

"A Journal of the Plague Year"
by Daniel Defoe

"The Dover website describes it as:

"'Classic 1722 account of the epidemic that ravaged England nearly 60 years earlier. Defoe used his considerable talents as a journalist and novelist to reconstruct — historically and fictionally — the Great Plague of London in 1664-65. Written as an eyewitness report, the novel abounds in memorable and realistic details.'

"It really is fascinating. Defoe describes in nasty detail the suffering of his fellow Londoners. Each day he reports the bills of mortality. Defoe had actually been alive during the outbreak, so even though it is a work of fiction there is some reality to it. Very morbid, highly recommended!!"


February 12, 2008

Today's Extreme Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Nearly three decades later, few holiday parties at the New Jersey Statehouse pass without some well-seasoned wag regaling a callow young man or woman with the story of Trenton’s most distinctive Christmas fete. The date was Dec. 22, 1978. A woman with hair the color of chalk had driven her Buick up a set of Capitol steps and smashed into a marble pillar. Witnesses said she then rolled down her window and said, “Merry Christmas! This is what you wanted!” With that, she tossed out a brown paper shopping bag with the wooden staff of a small American flag poked through it.

State Troopers Bernard Weiss and Tom Clugston rushed to the car just as the woman dragged a razor blade across her throat. As the troopers struggled to get her out of the car, the bleeding woman hollered, “Call my mother,” Clugston would later recall. “I asked her where her mother was, and she said, ‘She’s right outside,’” gesturing toward the bag.

Others gingerly peeked inside the tossed bag. Peeling back a green plastic garbage bag, they found an orb stained crimson with blood - a human head, double-bagged no less. It was her mother, all right.

The driver was Jean Zelinsky, 48, who had lived with her mother, Julia, 78, in a small house in Ringoes, N.J., 15 miles north of Trenton. An investigation showed that Jean Zelinsky, in a psychopathic rage, attacked her mother that morning. She confronted the elderly woman in her bedroom and clubbed her with a hammer. She then dragged the body into the bathroom, where she sawed off the head.

Jean cleaned herself up, bagged the head and carried it out to her car for the drive to Trenton, waving nonchalantly to a neighbor as she passed. Jean, an attractive woman whose looks were marred by a strabismus - or wandering - eye, had never married. Her close relationship with her mother apparently had grown claustrophobic. The women argued loudly and frequently. They bickered about Jean’s beautiful and successful younger sister, who had given Julia three grandchildren. Julia, who did not drive, accused her daughter of holding her hostage in the house.

At times, a blinding rage seemed to overwhelm Jean. A week before she was murdered, Julia Zelinsky went to a neighbor seeking help. She said she feared her daughter was going to attack her. Investigators found the home the women shared in appalling condition. Jean had shredded most of her own clothing with knives, scissors and razors, and authorities found the cupboards lined with rotting food - cans that were opened wide then placed in storage.

A Hunterdon County judge ruled that Zelinsky was mentally ill and paranoid when she attacked her mother. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity and packed away to the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital for an indeterminate term.

Culled from: New York Daily News
Generously suggested by: Jim K.

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For more on Zelinsky, see "Legacy of a Schizophrenic's Rage".

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Morbid Link Du Jour!

Here's an interesting photograph that purports to show the iceberg that downed the Titanic. Bad iceberg!!! Bad!!!

http://www.futilitycloset.com/2007/06/19/fleeing-the-scene/

Thanks to Dustin for the link.

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Wretched Recommendations!

Whirr Whobble sends a book recommendation:

"I have finished a book called Body of Work: Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Lab which is simply wonderful. The woman who goes to med school and writes about current human dissection, and the history of dissecting human bodies, is a poet, so her prose is clear, lyrical, and moving. I'm asking my local university if I can't take remedial math and get into med school. This book has awakened an old desire to be a pathologist, though my math grades sucked. The book is gorgeous, and will have you poking your wrists to look for tendons, and pondering what it means to donate your corpse to a med school. It's beautiful, morbid, clear, and tell me if it doesn't make you wanna fill out that med school application. It also has several antique engravings of bone structures, and articulated muscles. Good stuff."

Alas, The Comtesse is too old for med school... she's virtually a cadaver herself! But the book sounds quite interesting.


February 13, 2008

Today's Generally Ill Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

One of the male victims of x-ray castration experiments at Auschwitz later told of his ordeal, from the X-rays ("My genital organ, together with the scrotum, on a machine... the noise of a motor... from five to eight minutes," after which he "had a general ill feeling"); to the collection of sperm ("Dr. Dering [a Jewish Polish prisoner doctor] came with a sort of club and put it into my rectum ... Some drops came out of my member"); to beginning arrangements for the operation ("I said, 'Why are you operating on me? I am ... not sick.' [And Dering] answered, '... If I take not the testicle off you they will take it off me'"); to the painful spinal anaesthetic and the operation itself ("After some minutes I saw Dr. Dering when he had my testicle in his hand and showed it to Dr. Schumann, who was present"). To another man asking the same question before the operation, Dering replied, "Stop barking like a dog. You will die anyway."

Culled from: The Nazi Doctors

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Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Dan from the band Noodle Muffin has created an excellent website which details the tragedy that befalls those who have made the unfortunate decision to guest star on The Simpsons. Yes, The Curse Of The Simpsons is real!

http://curseofthesimpsons.com/

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Wretched Recommendations!

Around the time of Tammy Faye's death last summer, I wrote a short tribute to her, which inspired Flamingo Jake to send me a film recommendation. It's about time I share it with you all. (Yes, I know, I have a problem with falling behind a bit with the site... I am sorry about that... I'm trying to play catch up now!)

"To follow up on your tribute to Tammy Faye, you and your readers should be sure to catch her in all her mascara-clumped glory in the thoroughly enjoyable 'The Eyes Of Tammy Faye'. Before her death she was a willing participant in this documentary and found comfort in the arms of gay/AIDS communities. Always an optimist, fascinating story, filled with bubbly weirdness. I’d be tempted to call her a real survivor – except she didn't! [insert rimshot here]. I’m, sure this would make a worthy addition to the Asylum Eclectica:

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye

"Here’s the official website for the film: http://www.eyesoftammyfaye.com/profram.htm

"R.I.P."

Here are more documentary film suggestions from The Library Eclectica:
http://astore.amazon.com/theasylumeclecti?%5Fencoding=UTF8&node=46


February 14, 2008

Today's Annual Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In Sri Lanka, 50-100 people are killed annually in clashes between humans and wild elephants.

Culled from: Wikipedia
Generously submitted by: Ben Z.

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Happy St. Valentine's Massacre Day to you all! I thought I'd share a link to some lovely morbid art for your romantic enjoyment:

http://7deadlysinners.typepad.com/photos/sinner_valentines/

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Morbid Sightseeing Flickr Group!

So, lately I've been completely obsessed with photography thanks to recently acquiring both a Holga (ie. a cheap plastic camera that takes dreamy, atmospheric pictures) and a Brownie Hawkeye Flash (circa 1954) camera. I've been taking lots of pictures and developing my own film, then scanning the results. I've been getting my technique down with these two great cameras with plans of taking pictures of morbid sightseeing spots in Chicago for my forthcoming book. (Yes, it WILL eventually see the light of day!!!)

Anyway, I've been posting lots of pictures to Flickr groups and I thought there was a definite need for a Morbid Sightseeing group there - so I created one. Please feel free to post any morbid sightseeing photos you may have taken - original photos only please! - to the group. "Morbid sightseeing" is a broad spectrum that may include, but is not limited to, the following:

Graveyards/cemeteries/mausoleums
Morbid museum exhibits or public artwork
Historic buildings such as old prisons, asylums, hospitals, torture chambers, markets, etc.
Sites of historic or modern tragedies such as murders, suicides, accidents, fires, drownings, warfare, etc.
Abandoned buildings

Please include detailed descriptions of your photos so that we can thrill in the grief tourism with you.

I've added a few pics myself, but will be adding many more in the future. I hope to see some of you there! It's lonely in there right now...

http://www.flickr.com/groups/morbidsightseeing/

Here's my flickr page if you'd like to see what I've been up to lately. Eventually I'll put some of my better photos on my website, but it's easy to compile them at Flickr in the meantime:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/comtessedespair

Thanks for looking!

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"My Friend George's Brush With Morbidity" by Mike

"My friend, George, drives a specialty tow truck that is used when the big rigs break down or have to be towed from an accident scene. He has the usual stories of picking up motorcycle helmets with the head still inside, or carrying a snow shovel in the truck to scrape up remains. The eeriest story, however, happened a few years ago. There was a terrible accident when a small plane went down in Lake Erie on a short flight to Kingsville, Ontario from Pelee Island. It was a group of I believe eight pheasant hunters and their hunting dogs. A barge with a crane was sent out, and the plane was brought up through the ice on the lake and placed on a flatbed truck that my friend then drove to the company warehouse. His description of these hunters still strapped in their seats but encased in a solid block of ice that had filled the plane sticks in my mind. It took a week before the ice melted enough so that the bodies could be released."

Hmmmm... anyone else find the thought of pheasant hunters crashing to their deaths terribly ironic?


February 16, 2008

Today's Shameful Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Torture during witch trials very often had its sexual angles. Performed on women by men, legal torture permitted sadistic experimentation and gratuitous sexual advances. When the executioner Jehan Minart of Cambrai prepared the already condemned Aldegonde de Rue for the stake, he examined her interior parts, mouth, and "parties honteuses" (shameful parts). When a woman was whipped, she had to be stripped to the waist, her breasts bared to the public. To try to force a confession, a priest applied hot fat repeatedly to Catherine Boyraionne's eyes and her armpits, the pit of her stomach, her thighs, her elbows, and "dans sa nature" - in her vagina. She died in prison, no doubt from injuries.

Culled from: Witchcraze

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Thanks to everyone who's joined the Morbid Sightseeing Flickr group and added me as a contact. It will be fun to see the group grow as more of you start adding your own morbid sightseeing photographs to it. I added one to the group today - a photo from Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, which is just a few blocks away from The Castle DeSpair. Here it is for those of you who are interested:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/comtessedespair/2270204692/

And here's the Morbid Sightseeing Flickr Group.

Spread the word!

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Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Searching for the perfect gift for that Zombie-loving someone special in your life? Why not get them a Zombie portrait? A "hand-illustrated custom portrait depicting [them] as a brain chasing zombie".

http://www.zombieportraits.com/

Thanks to Sandy for the link.

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"My Brush With Morbidity" by Holly

"My father died in 1992 from emphysema, six weeks after I, the youngest in my family, finished college. He was cremated but we had no idea what he wanted done with his ashes. For a while, my mother kept them in the hall closet (where I would deliver all mail addressed to him, since it is a federal offense to interfere with the delivery of mail to the person to whom it is addressed). When she bought a new house, she moved him to her bedroom closet.

"In 1993, two of my college friend were visiting. They wanted to see Dad. I told them, 'Mom's closet, top right hand shelf.' They went into the closet and came running out. 'Dad's trying to escape.' Apparently, the younger of my two brothers had 'introduced' dad to his girlfriend the weekend before. He'd left the box open, exposing to view the twist-tied baggie with my father's cremains in it. One of my friends was traumatized that Dad had only a twist tie. Thus was born the joke: 'We have your father in this baggie with a twist tie, or the new Ziploc bag with the yellow-and-blue-makes-green seal....'

"In 1998, while I was finishing up my last year of law school, I got a phone call from my oldest brother. That Saturday had been a father/son night for Nashville's minor league hockey team. So he took dad. He went to the ticket counter and asked 'Is this the night that if you bring your dad you get in for half price?' The clerk, who was apparently high school aged, said yes. My brother then promptly dropped the box with my father's ashes on the counter. 'That's my dad,' he told her.

"She stammered for a moment then said she had to get a manager.

"The manager thought it was hysterical. My dad got his own seat. They announced it was Bob's first hockey game, although neglecting to mention it was 6 years after he'd died. The guy selling beer kept trying to serve my dad, because he looked 'thirsty.'

"This same brother and I discussed for years entering Dad in a costume contest at a Star Trek convention as Gene Roddenberry (who was cremated, for those how may not know).

"In Janary 1999, that same brother was diagnosed with cancer and died in 2001. A year after he died, my mother showed up at my doorstep with his ashes. It was apparently one of his last wishes that I enter him in the costume contest at DragonCon, an annual sci-fi/fantasy/gaming convention in Atlanta that I attend religiously, as, you guessed it, Gene Roddenberry. As of this date, I haven't done it, since I am a chicken and at the moment still need a job (I figure that entering a dead body in a costume contest might get some publicity, and since I'm a public employee, I really can't deal with that right now). So he currently resides in my bedroom closet. I take him out periodically (when there are good Star Trek episodes on or when our college was in the NCAA Basketball Tournament Sweet Sixteen earlier this year, so he can watch the games) but generally that's his home now. At least, until I can finally quit my job and enter him in that costume contest. On the plus side, having waited so long to do this, he can now go as either Gene Roddenberry or Scotty. "

Wait a few more years, and he'll be able to go as a wide cast of characters...


February 17, 2008

Today's Molten Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The Jivaroan tribes inhabit the tropical forest of the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazon. The Jivaros are the only tribe known to have successfully revolted against the Spanish Empire and to have been able to thwart all subsequent attempts by the Spaniards to conquer them. The Jivaro Indians have a reputation for their fierceness which distinguishes them from their counterparts based on the savageness directed toward their enemies. Early Spanish chronicles relate that in the year 1599, the Jivaros banded together and killed 25,000 white people in raids on two settlements. In particular, the massacre of the Logrono stands out as particularly ruthless. The attack was instigated over the natives being taxed in their gold-trade. After uncovering the unscrupulous practices of the visiting governor, molten gold was later poured down his throat until his bowels burst. Following his execution, the remaining Spaniards were killed along with the older women and children. The younger useful women were taken as prisoners to join the clan. The settlement itself was raided and burned to the ground. From this point onward, the Jivaro Indians remained unconquered despite the fact that they inhabited one of the richest regions in South America for gold deposits. The Jivaro's fierce fighting reputation and head-shrinking practice continued to discourage outsiders from entering their territories.

Culled from: Head-hunter.com
Generously submitted by: Einstein Shrugged

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Well, good for them for fighting off the Spaniards!

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Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Patrick writes to let me know about Psycho Bob - a series of YouTube shorts about a murderous lunatic brought to you courtesy of the Onion's AV Club. Brilliant stuff!

Psycho Bob And The Hitchhikers

Psycho Bob Goes To The Beach

Psycho Bob and the Neighbors

Psycho Bob Visits His Folks

Psycho Bob Works It Out

Psycho Bob's Big Night

Psycho Bob Adopts A Dog

"Quiet Please!"

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Morbid Sightseeing!

How unbearably beautiful is Weston State Hospital, an old asylum in Weston, West Virginia? It was auctioned off for 1.5 million dollars to someone in August, 2007 and hopefully it will be opened to the public for tours. I'm not holding my breath though, considering how most people would eagerly sacrifice such beauty for a developer's buck. But, in any event, enjoy the photographs at Preservation Photography:

http://www.preservationphoto.com/loc30.html

All of Preservation Photography's photos are excellent - check them out here:
http://www.preservationphoto.com/

Thanks to J. Bo for the link.



Vulgarities...